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Christmas celebrated Dec. 8 in downtown

By: Patty McAlpin, Reporter
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Smiles on the faces of Lincoln residents were contagious Dec. 8 as visitors and residents enjoyed the annual parade, Christmas tree lighting and store open houses downtown.

The parade route along 5th and F streets was populated with young and old and all ages in between, bundled up in blankets and sweaters, many sporting red Santa hats.

Spectators stood three to four rows deep along the street barricades. The Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce did not have an official count of how many spectators attended.

Dogs dressed in Santa coats and other festive attire accompanied family members.   

As soon as children saw lights coming from Fifth and A streets marching toward the start at F Street, they stopped playing with each other and joined their parents sitting in chairs and standing along the parade route. They craned their heads over the barriers for the best possible view.   

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3010 color guard was immediately followed by the Semper Fi Association entry including Marine Corps veterans riding in jeeps, a U.S. Marine Corps Humvee and a train.

Toys piled inside peaked out the top of the new Toys for Tots train driven by Semper Fi Association President Bob Friend. Lincoln High School students helped build the train. This is the eighth year the association has collected toys. Frank Neves is the coordinator for the 2012 effort.

The Marine Corps entry was among 31 participating in the parade sponsored by the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce. Chamber event coordinator Terri Reeves said “there were a lot fewer entries” because of the change in dates and the weather. She said there are typically 60 entries. The parade, tree lighting and Lights of Lincoln Open House was originally scheduled Dec. 1 but was canceled due to rain.

Other entrants included Boy and Girl Scouts, Lincoln High School cheerleaders, the American Legion, Placer County Fair Association, Sheridan 4-H, Mt. Pleasant 4-H, Little Peeps Preschool, Fruitvale School, Adventure Christian School, Nash Twirling Academy, Sacramento Valley Golf Cars, a gold car resembling a bunny for Lindt Chocolate R.S.V.P., an animated Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Mrs. Claus waving from the Tea Party United vehicle.

Santa, riding in a fire truck, was the last and most anticipated arrival. Cheers greeted him.

Members of several parade entrants passed out candy to parade spectators. Children filled their hands and jacket pockets with candy canes, chocolate and other yummy treasures, eating some and saving some for later.

Girls Scouts dressed in colorful robes were among the groups supplying treats. Those standing or sitting near Umpqua Bank’s table picked up hot chocolate or coffee and cookies.

Nancy Peterson enjoyed the parade with her grandchildren, Kayla and Shauna Peterson, ages 7 and 9, and their mother, Sharnay Peterson, whose husband was at Lincoln Chinese Restaurant trying to secure seats for the Peterson family following the parade.

As the girls chewed on candy, their grandmother said, “The parade is so neat every year and, every year, it’s different. It’s always good.”

Asked what her favorite part was, Sharnay Peterson said, “All the folks out here enjoying the community.”

Kallie McKean, who was at the parade with her husband and their two children, said she “loved getting out to see all of our neighbors. It makes me proud to live in Lincoln.”

Asked what her children’s favorite part was, McKean said, “So far, the candy but Santa will definitely be a big hit.”

Her son, Jack, 4, said his favorite part was the fire trucks. His sister, Audrey, 3, said she loved the princesses (That was her name for the young girls in Charros Guadalupanos de Lincoln, a group of Latino dancers, performers, rope twirlers, Charros on horseback and a marching band).

Music was the starring attraction following the parade and prior to the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree. Children from Foskett Ranch Elementary School sang a medley of Christmas carols in Beermann Plaza followed by the Heritage Church music team led by Evan Fernald, who invited the crowd to join in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Feliz Navidad.”    

Near the Christmas tree, 2-year-old Brielle Gearin danced. She led three children in a circle to the beat of the music.

“She came last year but she wasn’t walking yet,” said her mother, Erin Gearin. “She loves to dance. Every time she hears the music, she can’t help herself.”

After the music faded, Mayor Spencer Short asked everyone to direct their attention to the tree. He invited the children to help him count down from 5 to 1.

A loud cheer arose as the lights appeared.

“Have a great Christmas and happy holidays,” Short told the crowd. “The shops and restaurants are open downtown. See you next year.”

The crowd dispersed quickly to fill up seats at Simple Pleasures, Whistlestop Café, Lincoln Chinese Restaurant and the other downtown eateries. Those not seated munched their way through the shops, which offered sweets and drinks. 

Sherrie Stidham and her family visited The Green Goat after the parade.

“This is our 14th year,” Stidham said. “We love downtown Lincoln. We are doing some Christmas shopping and looking for stuff for people. My granddaughter is 13. We started taking her to the parade when she was 2. Today, we brought her and our two youngest grandsons. They are 7 and 4. We take our grandkids and just enjoy the evening.”

Shop owner Leslie Campbell said she was able to see a little of the parade.

“I loved that animated deer,” she said. “That was awesome. I filmed that one.”

Judie Leimer, a nine-year Lincoln resident, said Saturday was the first time she visited the downtown stores. She was looking around Lincoln Boulevard Home Consignments.

“I wanted to see what was here,” she said. “I went to the parade. I thought I’d go to the stores afterward and then come back to see the lit tree.”

Christy Schultz and her 9-month-old son Tyler sat in Sierra Hills Framing while her husband looked around. Her husband, Jason, collects Grateful Dead concert posters and San Francisco Giants memorabilia.

“This is our first holiday outing,” Christy Schultz said. “We got to do a little family activity.”

Husband Jason said he enjoyed seeing their son’s impressions of the parade.

“He’s so little. I loved watching his reactions to the fire trucks,” Jason Schultz said.